Controversy is trailing the extension of tenure of the managing director and the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the Federal Government.
It was learnt at the weekend that the board members had received the letters extending their tenure till 2020 contrary to the extant law which terminates the tenure by next month.
The Chairman of the board is Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba. Mr. Nsima Ekere is the managing director. They assumed office in November last year..
Other members are: Adjogbe Samuel, Mene Derek, Frank George, Brambaifa Nelson and Sylvester Nsa, Ogaga Ifowodo, Uwuilekhue Saturday, Harry Dabibi, Benard Banfa, Yahaya Mohammed, Mustapha Dankadai, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse and Abdul-Kazeem Bayero.
The letter given to the members signed by the former Secretary to the Fedral Government Babachir Lawal states in part: “The appointment took effect from November 1, 2016 and you are to serve out the remainder of the term of office of your predecessor, in line with Section 5 (2) of the Act.”
President Muhammad Buhari named a new board on July 22, 2016, after dissolving the Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw-led board in 2015. The nominees were screened by the Senate and cleared in October.
But former Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Lawal conveyed the president’s approval of a new four-year term to the board on October 16.
Lawal reportedly acted on the legal advice of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Shehu Abubakar Malami.
The Ewa-Henshaw board was dissolved in 2015 because of the infighting among board members and a court case between board members and the Federal Government at the National Industrial Court, Abuja.
According to the NDDC’s Act of 2000, members of the board of the Federal Government’s interventionist agency ought to be in office for just four years, without extension, and the positions to be rotated alphabetically among the nine states.
The former Managing Director, Mr. Bassey Dan-Abia, from Akwa Ibom State, who was appointed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, was in office for two years, before he was dropped.
On assumption of office, President Muhammadu Buhari, appointed a former Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, as Acting Managing Director. She was in office for 11 months.
Indigenes of Akwa Ibom state protested continually and some of them even went to court, insisting that one of their own must complete Dan-Abia’s tenure. Ekere from Akwa Ibom State was then appointed. .
At the forefront of the current protests are indigenes of Bayelsa State expecting an indigene of the state to be appointed managing director by December.
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC),is leading the agitation.
But a member of the board, who does not want to be quoted, faulted the agitation.
He cited Section 3(1) of the NDDC Act which states that “subject to the provision of Section 4 of this Act a member of the Board, other than an ex-officio member shall hold office for a term of four years in the first instance and may be re-appointed for a further term of four years and no more.”
He also said since there is a board in place, a new Senate confirmation was not needed, in line with section 5 (3), which deals with vacancy on the board.
“Where there is no board at all in place, section 3(i) applies. Section 5(3) applies where there is a board and vacancy occurs. There must be a board in place for a vacancy to occur. A vacancy cannot occur where there is no board as was the case when the present board was appointed,” he added.
Director, Corporate Affairs of NDDC Mr. Ibitoye Abosede declined to comment yesterday when our correspondent contacted him.